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(1999) (Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau) (PG-13)

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Action/Adventure: Feeling partially responsible for an oil magnate's death, British secret agent James Bond vows to protect his adult daughter who may be the next target of a villain who feels no pain and wants to steal a nuclear warhead for his own evil plans.
After returning several million dollars to an oil tycoon, British secret agent James Bond (PIERCE BROSNAN) is surprised to learn that his efforts only served as him being a courier for international terrorist, Renard (ROBERT CARLYLE), to kill the tycoon with a planted bomb.

It seems that several years ago Renard had kidnaped the tycoon's daughter, Elektra (SOPHIE MARCEAU), and was upset that the oil magnate and Bond's superior, M (JUDI DENCH), tried to free her in a botched rescue attempt. Nonetheless, the young woman escaped and upon her father's recent demise, has now inherited the family oil business. With her attempts at completing a competitive cross- country pipeline across Western Asia, M worries that many people, especially Renard, may want her dead.

Thus, she assigns Bond to shadow her, which he does along with saving and then eventually bedding her. Yet Bond isn't satisfied just to play her bodyguard, and thus sets out to figure out who's after her. His investigation leads him back to a former shady acquaintance, Valentin Zukovsky (ROBBIE COLTRANE), as well as introduce him to Christmas Jones (DENISE RICHARDS), a young and shapely nuclear physicist.

As Bond learns that Renard -- who can feel no pain due to a bullet lodged in his brain -- plans to steal a nuclear warhead to eliminate some oil competition, he begins to question Elektra's motives while trying to stop the villain and his efforts.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
Although some of you might not like hearing this news, I feel it's my duty to inform you of something. Just as automobile tires will eventually go bald, opened milk will finally go sour, and all living things will lose their youthful luster and vigor as they age, the James Bond films have now officially run out of plot ideas.

While some will state that such a notion is ridiculous because that already occurred several installments ago or that the plots are redundant and not the point of the films anyway, the fact stands that the basic storyline of "The World is Not Enough" is a tired and unimaginative retreading of prior Bond films.

After all, having to come up with an original plot for the 19th installment of the venerable series is no easy task and the script by Neal Purvis ("Plunkett & Macleane"), Robert Wade ("Plunkett & Macleane") and Bruce Feirstein ("Tomorrow Never Dies," "Goldeneye") involving a stolen nuclear warhead and control of the oil market isn't particularly noteworthy or very interesting for that matter.

Of course some will rightly argue that the plots are really only intended as nothing more than excuses for having Bond participate in exciting, stunt-filled adventures, meeting and bedding beautiful and buxom women while dropping double entendres, and ordering, of course, a martini that's -- surprise, surprise -- shaken and not stirred.

To be fair, the film more than adequately delivers all of that in an audience pleasing fashion and the fact that the last Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies," racked up some $330 million worldwide insures that this won't be the last time 007 graces the silver screen. Yet as Yogi Berra once stated, "It's deja vu all over again," as all of those elements have a familiar feel to them.

From the obligatory opening musical number (less than memorably performed by Garbage) featuring silhouetted nude women, to a boat and later ski chase and several international locations, this one doesn't really offer anything new -- other than some wild tree trimmers that literally put a new spin on the old hero facing a rotating blade on a conveyor belt bit -- that we haven't previously seen.

Even the "Bond girls" -- French actress Sophie Marceau and the horribly miscast Denise Richards -- don't bring anything novel (other than fresh body parts) to the proceedings, and the obligatory "tough guy" villain -- a man who can't feel any pain due a bullet in his brain that's slowly killing him -- is a dud.

It's not above suspicion that part of the repetition is due to someone at the studio with a strict "don't mess with the successful formula" directive, but sooner or later audiences will surely get tired of nothing more than the same old, same old.

All of that said, the film does manage to remain mostly entertaining due to the action sequences, the attractive "eye candy," and Pierce Brosnan as 007. Tackling his third outing as the British secret agent, Brosnan ("The Thomas Crown Affair," "Dante's Peak") continues to appear ever more comfortable in the role and has pretty much managed to erase the memories of the far stiffer Timothy Dalton who preceded him (and replaced Roger Moore).

Embodying the stronger of the two "Bond girls," French actress Sophie Marceau ("Lost & Found," "Firelight") is quite good despite offering nothing relatively new to the usual femme fatale role, although the chemistry between her and Brosnan is believable and works throughout the film.

What doesn't work -- not even remotely -- is Denise Richards ("Wild Things," "Starship Troopers") as a top level nuclear physicist. While she has the proper "assets" to appear in the film (as evidenced by her nuclear physicist wardrobe of small, tightfitting shorts and just as tight a tank-top), her initial (as well as every other) appearance, line readings and "acting" will only be enjoyed by hormone-laden males (particularly teenagers) who themselves might not even be able to stifle laughs or groans of incredulity of her being cast in the role.

More believable, but even less satisfactory and/or imaginative is Robert Carlyle ("Ravenous," "The Full Monty") as the obligatory villain and number one Bond nemesis. Unlike Richard Kiel as Jaws, Christopher Lee as Scaramanga, or Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No, this villain is a dud with absolutely no charisma. Even the "clever" notion of him not being able to feel any pain is a wasted point as it's not really used to its full potential. That's not even considering that most action movie villains seemingly already posses that attribute (think of Gary Busey in the first "Lethal Weapon" film as well as a plethora of similarly wired ones in other films).

Dame Judi Dench ("Shakespeare in Love," "Mrs. Brown") and Desmond Llewelyn (who's appeared in seventeen Bond films) return as M and Q respectively. While Dench's character gets a more substantial amount of screen time, the fact that a great deal of it is spent behind bars limits what she can do with the role. The film's true coup, however, is in the casting of former Monty Python funnyman John Cleese ("A Fish Called Wanda") as Q's heir apparent, a character appropriately named "R."

Although it's too bad that notable director Michael Apted ("Gorillas in the Mist," "Coal Miner's Daughter") couldn't infuse the rest of the film with as much impromptu fun, the film is still easy enough to sit through, particularly if you're a die-hard fan of the series.

While we hope that the creative forces manage to dig up something novel the next time around, the action sequences, attractive cast and usual Bond shenanigans (including the standard fun gadgets) present here make this a fairly entertaining diversion. As such, "The World is Not Enough" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed November 16, 1999 / Posted November 19, 1999

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